How did I hear about this “Ancestral Health Symposium” event?
First off, I heard about this event from Ben Greenfield on his podcast. I’m a big fan of Ben because of the wealth of health and fitness advice that he offers. So, when I heard that he would be presenting in Boulder (which is just a suburb of Denver where I live) at this Ancestral Health something-or-other, I decided it would be worth the trip.
I offered to volunteer and they signed me up as one of the “tech leads” which meant that I had to make sure all the presenters’ presentations were loaded and ready to go. This gave me the opportunity to meet all of the presenters in the East room. (There were 2 presentations running at the same time: 1 in the West room and 1 in the East room. So I was there for all of the presentations in the East room.)
What is the Ancestral Health Symposium?
It’s basically a bunch of science-y type of people – scientists, PhDs, lay people, and even physicians – who get together for 3 days of networking, checking out a few vendors, and watching presentations – all related to ancestral health.
So what, exactly, is ancestral health?
I really don’t know if there’s any definitive definition but, from my POV, it means that we look at health from the lens of our past – more specifically, our ancestors. We see what can be learned from our past and how we can apply it today – so that we learn more about (and improve!) our health.
To simplify, you can pretty much think of “ancestral” as “paleo”. I think a lot of people in this community try to avoid the term “paleo” because, with it, come all kinds of preconceptions, biases, and misconceptions. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard about Paleo a few years ago, I assumed that people were basing their diet almost purely based on what our ancestors ate. As I’ve come to find, this is really not the case. Paleo encompasses more than food. It’s a lifestyle. And Paleo is further backed by science every day. BUT, for those sceptics out there, you can read why Paleo is half-baked.
I try not to fall for the trap of “this way is right” or “that way is wrong”. I like to think that the world we live in is nuanced and there is good and bad in just about everything. Thus, following an ancestral lifestyle is not good or bad. Rather, it’s both – depending on how you see it…and, more important, how and what you adopt from it.
What topics were covered at the Ancestral Health Symposium?
Many: Adrenal Fatigue, Calorie Intake, Obesogens, Diet and Cognition, Vitamins and Testosterone, Optimal Universal Diet, Alzheimers, Global Sustainability, Kidney Diseases, Human Sexual Behavior, Fatty Acids, Barefoot Running and Walking, Fasting, Weaning, Human Milk, Hormesis, Play, Biohacking vs Natural Living, Allergies, Myopia, Sleep, Evolutionary Mismatch, Microbiota, Histamine Intolerance, Sedentarism, and more!
What were my key takeaways?
It seems that many of us often look for something simple – like a pill we can pop – to help improve our health…when, in fact, it may be more beneficial to take away things to improve your health. In fact, many people already do this. Many people mistakenly call it dieting. However, what I’m suggesting is…
Jake Jacobson presented studies of hunter gatherers showing diseases of aging was rare among the elderly…that their meal frequency may be just as important to their health. Jake contended that during long periods without food, the body initiates eight repair processes that make the hunter stronger, faster, and sharper.
Along those lines, we have created some pretty impressive technology to “hack” our health. Things like: Saunas, Cryotherapy chambers, Heart rate monitors, and so on.
Ben Greenfield gave his thoughts on biohacking vs natural living. Often you can find a natural alternative to all of this cool new technology…things like:
Rather than a sauna, put on some warm clothes and go jog outside in the middle of a hot summer day.
Rather than cryotherapy, take a cold bath or shower.
Rather than using a fancy heart rate monitor, simply put your finger on your wrist or neck and take your pulse. Interestingly, this has the added benefit of connecting with your body and thereby lowering your heart rate faster.
Want to see the talks for yourself?
Jason @ Zen Strength